Well Met fans, if you were looking for a true test of this 2011 Amazin’ ballclub, you’ve got one. Starting Thursday, the Mets will face some of the games best pitching for seven-straight ball games. They will face Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels over the next week. All seven were elected to the 2011 All-Star Game and now in seven consecutive contests, one of them will take the hill against Flushing’s Finest.
To begin this unimaginable stretch, the Mets first task will be 23-year old Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been phenomenal once again for the Dodgers, going 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and a league-leading 138 punchouts to boot. The young southpaw has handled the Mets well in his career, earning a 3-0 record with a 1.85 ERA. This will be a particularly tough game for the Mets as Kershaw is 6-1 with a 2.09 ERA at homer. The Amazin’s will look to top their first or seven aces with arguably their own ace in that of Dillon Gee Thursday evening.
Continuing their West Coast excursion, the Mets will go to San Fransisco and will be greeted by the full front of the infamous Giants rotation. On Friday, they will face veteran Ryan Vogelsong. The 33-year old North Carolina native has been the R.A. Dickey of 2011, going 6-1 with a 2.13 ERA and earning his first All-Star appearance. In his career against the Amazin’s, Vogelsong is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA. Earlier this season, the Mets faced Vogelsong, scoring five runs including home runs by both Ike Davis and Carlos Beltran. Although the Mets handled Vogelsong well in May, do not expect the same result this time around. The Giants hurler has a 1.01 ERA at home.
Then it gets “Freaky” as the 2-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum will get the call to face the Amazin’s. Don’t let his 6-7 record fool you, Lincecum has been dominant, compiling a 3.14 ERA while punching out 126 batters so far this season. In Lincecum’s only start against the Mets this season, he came to play, dealing seven shutout innings while striking out twelve.
Day four of this perilous journey will feature another Giants All-Star, in that of Matt Cain. The 26-year old Alabama native earned his second call to the All-Star game earlier this week, but will not pitch given the fact that his start against the Mets will be the Sunday prior to the All-Star Game. In his career against the Amazin’s, Cain is 4-3 with a 4.03 ERA. The Mets may have a chance against Cain, so long as Reyes is healthy and ready to go for this game. Reyes is 8-for-14 in his career against Cain, including a home run and five RBIs.
After the All-Star Break, the Mets come home to play the rival 1st-place Phillies. The Amazin’s will bear the brunt of Philadelphia’s feared rotation facing Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Halladay has continued his usual dominance, going 11-3 with a 2.44 ERA. He will get one more start before facing the Mets, but he has been particularly dominant over his past 3 starts, going 2-0 with a microscopic 1.88 ERA. The 34-year old reigning Cy-Young award winner will face a Mets squad that he has held in check, holding them to an average of 2.5 runs per game in his career.
There will be no easing up as Cliff Lee will go back to back with Halladay against the Amazin’s. Lee had been above average to start the season following his triumphant return to Philadelphia, but in June, the 32-year old southpaw was locked in, going 5-0 with a super-human 0.21 ERA. He came back down to earth in his most recent start, but as Keith Hernandez always says, look out for an ace coming off a bad start.
Wrapping up this dreadful week will be Cole Hamels. Although the 27-year old southpaw has not been much of a threat to the Mets in the past, batting .309 against him in his career, Hamels is off to the best year of his career, earning 10 wins compared to only 4 losses and compiling a 2.40 ERA. But with the possibility of David Wright returning, the Mets have a realistic chance of getting the better of Hamels after the All-Star break.
With a seemingly insurmountable task in the upcoming week, this will be the toughest 7-games any ballclub will have to take on in years. If the Mets can come out of this and still remain a .500 team, I will be impressed. Given that the wheels have fallen off the past few seasons around this time, the Mets will need to be clicking on all cylinders to have a chance against basically every top pitcher in the National League.
Facing more than half of the National League All-Star pitchers in a seven-game span? In the words of Terry Collins: